Top Squashes

By Charlie Nardozzi

Squash lovers in Decorah, Iowa, were excited during the summer of 1997 when Seed Savers Exchange (a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties of vegetables, herbs, and fruits) grew plants of its entire collection of summer and winter heirloom squashes. That's 750 different varieties of squash!

I'm told they documented, evaluated, and tasted most of them, and naturally enough, several varieties stood out as superior. When I asked these squash experts to name their three favorites, they unanimously picked the following. Each produces a vigorous vine and needs about 100 days from sowing to mature fruit.

'Amish Pie', a pale orange 60- to 80-pound Hubbard type, grows on pest-resistant vines. The deep orange flesh was moist and flavorful--great for pies and other recipes.

'Mardi Gras', an acorn-type winter squash, was most noteworthy for its unusual fruit color. The 3-inch-long by 4-inch-diameter flavorful fruits had green, orange, and yellow, speckled skin, making them very attractive. Pest resistance was also very good.

'Minnesota Sweet', flat and pumpkinlike, produces 4-pound, sweet fruits that are a great size for family servings.

These three varieties are available free to members of Seed Savers Exchange (dues are $25 per year), 3076 North Winn Rd., Decorah, IA 52101; (319) 382-5990.

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